I just finished reading The Labyrinth Unbound: Weblogs as Literature, by Steve Himmer. I felt he did a great job at explaining the main differences between weblogs and other forms of “traditional” writings such as novels. To someone like me who is relatively uninitiated in the ways and history of the blog, I found his explanations very throughout and understandable.
Starting off, his definition of weblogs and how they differ from traditional mediums set off the whole article, and allowed me to pin down what I already knew about blogs – that they are not bound by time alone. They are living, breathing, and detailed looks into the author’s mind. To understand a blogger’s work is to understand his or her personality and mindset at that particular time. Himmer begins to describe this idea on page 1, below.
The weblog collapses many of the commonassumptions made about texts, as it
complicates the distinction between author and audience through the multivocality of both direct commenting, and the reader’s ability to reorder the narrative in myriad ways. Owing to its ongoing creation over an undefined period of time, the weblog becomes a text that constantly expands through the input of both readers and writers.
Another aspect of blogging that I find very interesting is echoed by the author on page 2 of the article. Blogging is unique in that, unlike other forms of writing, an author can write about a certain topic or experience with a mixture of factual and unfactual information. And for the most part, this is okay. Instead, blogs allow the reader to determine for themselves how best to proceed with the information and determine if what they read is trustworthy or untrustworthy. Read the exact quote from Himmer (3), below.
One element of that project is a less defined distinction between fact and fiction, or between stories and those who tell them. Despite frequent and lingering questions about whether online voices are “honest” or “real,” and concerns about webloggers presenting themselves truthfully, the particular features of the weblog make these questions all but irrelevant in many cases. Readers of fiction are typically asked to identify specifically with a narrator or at least a narrative presence, experiencing vicariously the imagined events of the characters’ imagined lives. Reading the newspaper or an academic journal, on the other hand, we are asked not to identify 3 with a narrative or authorial voice, but rather to read with no attention to voice at all—to read facts and opinions within a vacuum of “pure” information. A typical weblog offers both factual and interpretive information at once, making the distinction between truth and fiction irrelevant in favor of differentiation between trustworthy and untrustworthy.
In conclusion, weblogs are a unique beast in the writing world. They are able to be dynamic reflections of the author’s current state of mind or attitude, and are not bound by two covers and a binding like novels. In other words, a blog serves to let a reader into the mind of the author over (real) time. Readers are able to grow and develop alongside the blogger. In addition, blog themes or topics are not bound by a certain category (cats, dogs, fiction, nonfiction, etc.). Readers are allowed to make their own assumptions about the truthfulness of a weblog post or author, which contrasts other mediums such as textbooks or fiction novels in which readers are expected to identify the mediums for what they are – truth or fiction.
What excites me about blogging is how dynamic the medium is. If I want to post about my favorite color (blue, btw), I can do that. If I’d like to talk about a recent hunting jacket purchase (Well, that’s convenient.), I can go ahead and do that as well. While these topics are unrelated, the reader (you!) is able to get a sense of who I am as a person just from those two individual posts. Imagine if I included years and years of posts. You’d get an even more accurate depiction of who I am and what makes me tick.
I’m curious to know what my classmates think about what purpose a blog serves, as well what they appreciate most about the medium….weigh in below!